In a big blow to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis ahead of the state Assembly elections, the Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside the Bombay High Court's order that gave a clean chit to the BJP leader in the 2014 fake affidavit case. A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi nullified the previous order by Bombay High Court, saying that Fadnavis will be facing trial for allegedly suppressing pendency of two criminal cases in the affidavit he submitted before the 2014 Assembly polls in Maharashtra.
Reacting to the development, office of the Maharashtra Chief Minister said, "Complainant went to the Supreme Court and it remanded the case back to trial court for fresh consideration. It will again be heard in trial court to ascertain if a case for prosecution is made out or not. It's wrong and contemptuous to say SC has allowed prosecution.
The top court's verdict on the plea, filed by one Satish Ukey, comes at a time when Assembly poll is due in Maharashtra on October 21. The counting of votes for Maharashtra poll, along with Haryana Assembly election, will be taken up on October 24.
Ukey, in his plea, alleged that Fadnavis had filed a false affidavit by not disclosing the two criminal matters and yet the trial court and the high court held that no prima facie case was made out for prosecution of the chief minister.
Supreme Court sets aside the Bombay High Court order which had dismissed the plea that sought annulment of Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis's election to the Assembly alleging non-disclosure of all pending criminal cases against him. pic.twitter.com/xIT3ZH92GK— ANI (@ANI) October 1, 2019
The petitioner added, a candidate is under mandatory legal obligation to disclose the details of all the cases, in which either charges have been framed or the trial court had taken cognizance, in the nomination papers.
It was contended that the chief minister did not disclose the information as required of him under the election law and the non-disclosure of these two pending criminal cases was in violation of Section 125A of the RP Act and constituted an offence in itself.
Section 125A of the RP Act deals with the penalty for "filing false affidavit" and states that if a candidate or his proposer fails to furnish or gives false or conceals any information in his nomination paper on issues like pending criminal cases then the person would may be awarded six months jail term or fine or both.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who is appearing for the chief minister, however, had argued that the stage of cancellation of nomination papers for alleged concealment of information was over and the question was only whether the lawmaker can be prosecuted. Rohatgi added that the Bombay High Court rightly rejected the plea.
The two cases of alleged cheating and forgery were filed against Fadnavis in the year 1996 and 1998. However, charges were not framed against the senior BJP leader in both the cases.